Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Goodbye to ol' rusty red
My bike got stolen last week.
I couldn't believe it. I was worried about it because I never leave it out over night. But I can be a bit neurotic sometimes so I thought I was concerned over nothing. But then I approached the spot where I left it and saw nothing. No sign of my bike. Not even the broken lock on the ground. They took everything.
Our story began on Long Island, 1988. I wanted a light-weight 10-speed, because that's what everyone else had. But my mom had read recently that the future was in mountain bikes. And my parents were the ones paying for it. Luckily, these were the early days of mountain bikes, and they were still relatively light weight with thin frames and raised handle-bars. The brand? Panasonic. This was something I was at first embarrassed about, since Panasonic was a Japanese electronics company.....what did they know about bikes? But eventually I became proud of this unique instrument. It had 15 gears (of which I used about 3) and I switched the thick, treaded tires with the smoother road models. I used it all through middle school and high school to get to friends houses and explore the wooded areas of the north shore.
I eventually brought my bike to college with me and used it to get around campus and town. I remember my first roommate, a self-proclaimed redneck from Virginia named, no joke, Vern, borrowed it without asking while there was no air in the tires. The rims were bent and I had to replace them.
There was one time when I was riding up a steep hill and came upon a small crowd on my path; two girls and an old man hobbling up the same hill as me. I tried to circumvent the pedestrians by veering off the path on to the grass but lost my traction and crashed right into the old-timer! Oh the horror! The poor old man was knocked to the ground and the girls just stared at me in disbelief. Probably the most embarrassing cycling moment of my life. I gave up the bike for a few years when I got a car. The bike was red, the car was white. I zipped around my neighborhoods in my manual, running on unleaded, not looking back.
By the time I moved to nyc the bike once again made sense. From the east village, to brooklyn, to north and south, hudson to east river, I pedaled around on my trusty, rusty red Panasonic. I even wrote a song called Bicycle Girls and used my bike for sound effects. Recently, I started to ride to work on occasion and added a rack to the back wheel to carry my stuff. It felt great to wake up early and commute from brooklyn, across the bridge, through downtown, up the hudson bike path.....by the time I arrived at the office I already felt like a had a full and satisfying day.
After 22 years, ol' rusty red is gone. But not forgotten. I've heard getting your bike stolen in nyc is a rite-of-passage. I guess it's true. And now I know how it feels. When I first discovered the empty sidewalk where my bike had been I just sat there and stared off into space for about 5 minutes. But I'm not the type to sit around. I reported it to the local precinct and the next day shopped around and found a replacement. A beautiful blue vintage recycled bike single speed with brand new components built by Brooklyn Bike and Board. It's a new age.
And my cycling days continue...